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Part: III Ethical Dilemmas > Don't Let Them "Ethics" You

Chapter 15. Don't Let Them "Ethics" You

Some people pride themselves on being "ethical," and being "ethical" is certainly a quality to strive for. Not only does acting ethically mean you show honorable character traits, like being honest, squaredealing, and following moral principles, but other people feel they can trust you and are more likely to be loyal, motivated, committed, and productive.

However, the problem comes when people define ethics very broadly to include any behavior they think is wrong, unjust, or unfair, so they can claim the moral ground in a situation that is not really an ethical issue. Rather, what they are objecting to as unethical behavior is simply another perfectly acceptable way of doing business—and even a common practice in certain industries. Thus, when one person accuses you of being "unethical," it may be simply because they have different definitions of what's fair or right than you do. In that case, don't let their accusations of unethical behavior guilt-trip you to do what they think you should do; instead, regard their accusation as simply their opinion or belief. Then, let the best strategy be your guide, rather than letting their definition of what's ethical or what isn't guide you. If the issue isn't an ethical dilemma, don't make it one or get drawn into a debate about ethics. Where differing opinions trigger charges of being unethical, the other person usually has strongly felt emotions, and when that's the case, it's hard to change anyone's mind.


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